Does Working Long Hours Cause Obesity? The Case of the Reduction in South Korea’s Standard Workweek

24 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2017 Last revised: 30 Oct 2017

See all articles by Erin Hye-Won Kim

Erin Hye-Won Kim

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

Seoyeon Ahn

National Pension Research Institute

Young Kyung Do

Department of Health Policy and Management, Seoul National University College of Medicine, and Institute of Health Policy and Management, Seoul National University Medical Research Center

Date Written: September 26, 2017

Abstract

Despite its significant policy implications, not much is known about the causal impact of working long hours on obesity. The available evidence is mixed due to biases associated with omitted variables, reverse causality, and sample selection. Owing in part to this lack of conclusive evidence, the standard workweek—which sets the maximum weekly work hours for full-time salaried workers and, therefore, tends to limit their overtime work—has received little attention as a policy tool for tackling obesity. Between 2004 and 2011, the Korean government reduced the standard workweek from 44 to 40 hours for larger establishments, followed by smaller ones. We examine how this four-hour reduction affected body mass index (BMI) and obesity among male workers.

Keywords: BMI, Obesity, Legal workweek, Hours of work, Overtime work, Korea

Suggested Citation

Kim, Erin Hye-Won and Ahn, Seoyeon and Do, Young Kyung, Does Working Long Hours Cause Obesity? The Case of the Reduction in South Korea’s Standard Workweek (September 26, 2017). Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy Research Paper No. 17-25. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3044172 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3044172

Erin Hye-Won Kim (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy ( email )

Singapore 117591
Singapore

Seoyeon Ahn

National Pension Research Institute ( email )

Seoul
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

Young Kyung Do

Department of Health Policy and Management, Seoul National University College of Medicine, and Institute of Health Policy and Management, Seoul National University Medical Research Center ( email )

103 Daehak-ro Jongno-gu
Seoul, 110-799
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

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